D&D General D&D, magic, and the mundane medieval

Status
Not open for further replies.

Hussar

Legend
That sounds incredibly… sad.
I'd have told the players something along the lines of "if you cba to care about the setting, I cba to DM for you guys".
To be perfectly honest, it did eventually come down to that. It took me far, far longer than it should have, but, eventually I did have to walk from the group because I was just too frustrated.

My new group is a bit more engaged, although, again, it's hit and miss. About half the group actually had any ties I could work with and half the group didn't. But, half is enough for me. But, again, even with the pretty deep dumpster dives I've been doing into FR lore for my Candlekeep game, I know that the players don't really care all that much.

And, frankly I can't say I blame them. This string of gobbledygook proper nouns is pretty much the same as that string of gobbledygook proper nouns and, after a while, it just sort of fuzzes all together.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

To be perfectly honest, it did eventually come down to that. It took me far, far longer than it should have, but, eventually I did have to walk from the group because I was just too frustrated.

My new group is a bit more engaged, although, again, it's hit and miss. About half the group actually had any ties I could work with and half the group didn't. But, half is enough for me. But, again, even with the pretty deep dumpster dives I've been doing into FR lore for my Candlekeep game, I know that the players don't really care all that much.

And, frankly I can't say I blame them. This string of gobbledygook proper nouns is pretty much the same as that string of gobbledygook proper nouns and, after a while, it just sort of fuzzes all together.
yeah this is why I generally use the rule that what they show interest in is what I detail out... I start with a lot of broad strokes and see what the players key into... when I used to have new players I a few times got "Oh wow you planed this?"
 

Completely- why else have a world? I strive to make the setting coherent, you're not going to find an arctic culture in the tropics. You might find culturally arctic merchants in a tropical port, however. Aspects are determined ahead of time; who lives where, Ophir has the gold, the Equon penninsula is reminescent of India, &c. But if someone has a real interest in Ioun stones and wants to find some, I know where they are. If someone is a third child of a noble, here's a list of possible parentage.
I wasn't asking about coherency, I was asking about the interests of your players.

Seeing through their character's eyes, players don't see enough of a setting to be able to tell if it's coherent or not. I was taking about things like going into detail about architectural styles because you have a player who is an architect, or clothing fashions, because a player is a fashion designer.
 

This string of gobbledygook proper nouns is pretty much the same as that string of gobbledygook proper nouns and, after a while, it just sort of fuzzes all together.
From my Call of the Netherdeap campaign, Exandria is much worse than the Forgotten Realms for unpronounceable proper nouns!
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I wasn't asking about coherency, I was asking about the interests of your players.

Seeing through their character's eyes, players don't see enough of a setting to be able to tell if it's coherent or not. I was taking about things like going into detail about architectural styles because you have a player who is an architect, or clothing fashions, because a player is a fashion designer.
one of the benefits of the narrative first approach in modern games is that it takes the burden off the GM and shares the load. Your mention of architecture reminded me of the game where I was GMing the PCs as working for the city utilities department and one of the players was a real life civil engineer.
luckily it was fantasy so I could pivot those elements but when they were repairing the city walls and later when they went to explore the sewers - description of those things was left to the engineer to discover, with me asking the questions - it was really fun.

its also why (using the example from @Baron Opal II) if a player wants to be the 3rd son of a noble family from the Plains of Farzi then I’m not going to provide a list rather I’m going to ask the player to name their family and give me notes about their main holdings and relationship with the local Ruler
 
Last edited:




Seeing through their character's eyes, players don't see enough of a setting to be able to tell if it's coherent or not.
Re: coherency, the amount of the setting they see is dependent on how far traveled they are. As I mentioned previously my players like to explore. However, I see your point.

I was taking about things like going into detail about architectural styles because you have a player who is an architect, or clothing fashions, because a player is a fashion designer.
Yes, of course. Do you?
 

Re: coherency, the amount of the setting they see is dependent on how far traveled they are. As I mentioned previously my players like to explore. However, I see your point.
You would have to travel an awful long way to be comparable to how much modern people see, yet they are still only aware of a tiny fraction of the world. Which is why people believe weird conspiracy theories: in order to try and find coherence they fill in all the blanks with wild guesses.

Consider your arctic culture in the tropics. Players encounter it and think "that's weird, why is this here, there must be some story behind it?" And they come up with all sorts of conjecture. Now, if you are like JJ Abrams you pick on the best theory and say "that's right, it's what I intended all along!"
Yes, of course. Do you?
I haven't been bothered with world building since the 1980s.
 

You would have to travel an awful long way to be comparable to how much modern people see, yet they are still only aware of a tiny fraction of the world. Which is why people believe weird conspiracy theories: in order to try and find coherence they fill in all the blanks with wild guesses.
Well, there was a "global" trade network all around the Mediterranean Sea from Assyria to Spain and Britain to Egypt in 1100 BCE. The Silk Road from Europe to China lasted from ~100 BCE to ~1450 CE. "Modern" exposure to a multiplicity of cultures has been achievable for quite some time.

Consider your arctic culture in the tropics. Players encounter it and think "that's weird, why is this here, there must be some story behind it?" And they come up with all sorts of conjecture. Now, if you are like JJ Abrams you pick on the best theory and say "that's right, it's what I intended all along!"
Yes, exactly. But that would be purposeful, wouldn't it? If it wasn't, that would be sloppy setting design.

I haven't been bothered with world building since the 1980s.
So, you don't cater to your player's interests and desires? Or did I misunderstand the point of the question?
 


Cruentus

Adventurer
Well, there was a "global" trade network all around the Mediterranean Sea from Assyria to Spain and Britain to Egypt in 1100 BCE. The Silk Road from Europe to China lasted from ~100 BCE to ~1450 CE. "Modern" exposure to a multiplicity of cultures has been achievable for quite some time.
I know that there have been extensive trade networks, and at a minimum, awareness of other cultures, but I'd be curious how many "common people" of the age actually had any exposure beyond the goods brought back to their cities? Traders? Sure, they've met and interacted with other cultures. Military? Yup, Emperors and Generals and armies have found themselves on the fringes and beyond of their empires, but how much of that exposure made it back?

A lot of "influences" came from regional cultures or from integration via empire. I don't think it was very common to travel to foreign countries until pilgrimages became a thing. Of course, I could also be way off.

I find I have the most trouble when I try to do "all the worldbuilding" at the same time. I've recently been focusing on one area, or one country or region, fleshing that out, and basing my sandboxes there. I leave enough for players to engage with, and have been working to tie them more closely to their starting town/village (and have them help to build it out). That way, I'm hoping to not have the game devolve into hopping all over creation and having yet another world ending issue to deal with. If and when the players leave that region, then I'll have the neighboring region ready for them to explore, with lots to keep them engaged there.

I'm also specifically trying to keep most of it "mundane and medieval", with some magic, but it'll be few and far between, and PC spellcasters will have to seek out more knowledge/lore to become more powerful. And they'll likely be known for their skill should they reach even 5th level.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It's my experience that the players aren't particularly interested in settings*. Worldbuilding is largely something DMs do to amuse themselves; it has little effect on the point of contact between players and the DM.


*My players do like spectacle. For that reason, they like Eberron: flying ships! Floating cities! They aren't particularly interested in politics, how society functions, or ancient lore. You start talking about that stuff and they zone out and then say something like "okay, where do we have to go, and who do we have to kill?" I guess if you have players with a particular interest is politics, sociology, or history it might be different. The point where I have had players quizzing me for more background than I have prepared is with regards to criminal investigation: "can I ascertain the time of death? Have there been any similar murders? What were their dates and locations?"

To what extent do you tailor your world-building to the interests of your players?
Man I’d have to completely change how I run a game for a group like that. I think I’ve got one player who doesn’t initiate worldbuilding wrt his PC’s background during chargen, and even he gets into it when a storyline involves his history.
 

I know that there have been extensive trade networks, and at a minimum, awareness of other cultures, but I'd be curious how many "common people" of the age actually had any exposure beyond the goods brought back to their cities? Traders? Sure, they've met and interacted with other cultures. Military? Yup, Emperors and Generals and armies have found themselves on the fringes and beyond of their empires, but how much of that exposure made it back?
Well, not many- most people don't travel far from home, even now. I'm thinking of the merchants, traders, and sailors. How many people in Kansas have had exposure to Thailand culture, beyond the odd restaurant? If you are an adventurer with a pouch of gold, setting sail thataway over the horizon is not a hard task.

I find I have the most trouble when I try to do "all the worldbuilding" at the same time. I've recently been focusing on one area, or one country or region, fleshing that out, and basing my sandboxes there.
That's what I do; I build only what I need from what the players tell me and where I think they are going to go. Some aspects, like gods, magic, and geography, I have planned out in broad swathes, with some details. Magical techniques and the immaterial I find interesting, so I put effort there when I don't have to prepare something specific for an upcoming game. I've been thinking about it long enough that if someone pointed at a specific place on the world map I could likely give a one sentence description of what was there. But that's about it. There are two main places where campaigns have happened, so I have a lot of detail about a France sized area and an Ireland sized area.

Sometimes something comes to me and I write it down and think about it. Like, the city-state of Valon, run by the Hemalurgic Guild of magicians, has moneylenders at the gate. All silver coinage is exchanged for pewter coins of equivalent value. At least in Valon, anyway. Why? Don't know. How did the players find out? They found some pewter coins in a treasure trove. Every now and then they see the 106 pewter coins on their treasure sheet and talk about going there.

As it happens, I've since figured that out since one player has a PC from there and he asked what a Valoric insult would be. I told him that "silver sucker" or "coin licker" is synonymous with "coward". Regular people sometimes smuggle in silver coins or hackmetal and keep them in their cheek or under their tongue as a protection against a random curse from the ruling class.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I'd be curious how many "common people" of the age actually had any exposure beyond the goods brought back to their cities?
More than you’d think, actually. Regular folk going on pilgrimage (not just for religious purposes, but for a hundred reason, including just wanting to travel a bit before they pass) wasn’t uncommon in any century of the common era in Europe, except in times of war or famine or plague. Few did it multiple times, but you didn’t have to be wealthy or part of a military or anything to head down the road with a pilgrim caravan in early spring and go to a major city or holy cite or whatever.
 

More than you’d think, actually. Regular folk going on pilgrimage (not just for religious purposes, but for a hundred reason, including just wanting to travel a bit before they pass) wasn’t uncommon in any century of the common era in Europe, except in times of war or famine or plague. Few did it multiple times, but you didn’t have to be wealthy or part of a military or anything to head down the road with a pilgrim caravan in early spring and go to a major city or holy cite or whatever.
Yes! In fact, I came across the Travels of Egeria, the diary of a nun that travelled from some place in Gallaecia to Jerusalem, with side hikes to notable mountain shrines. I think it was originally a collection of letters to her "sisters" at home. It is thought to date to the rule of Justinian, early-mid 6th century. What I found interesting about it is the descriptions of the porters, inns, taverns, and all of the support systems that aided pilgrims in their journey.
 

Redwizard007

Adventurer
I play/run with a table of DMs if one of us cant orwont give therest of usjust tell them to sit as a player awhile... since we have no lack of DMs as an option we are in the (I guess rare) situation where we all have equal say in what WE run
I play with a group of mostly DMs, and we take the exact opposite approach. Each guy runs something different. Some more different than others, obviously. It keeps things feeling fresh, and helps us scratch different itches, so to speak. Nobody trys to run an Orc in my Dark Sun, and I don't take Thri-kreen into Dragonlance. Nobody gets stuck as the forever-DM and we get to play different settings, styles, and character concepts without having to shoehorn a character into something where they don't fit. Works rather well for us.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yes! In fact, I came across the Travels of Egeria, the diary of a nun that traveled from some place in Gallaecia to Jerusalem, with side hikes to notable mountain shrines. I think it was originally a collection of letters to her "sisters" at home. It is thought to date to the rule of Justinian, early-mid 6th century. What I found interesting about it is the descriptions of the porters, inns, taverns, and all of the support systems that aided pilgrims in their journey.
Absolutely! Pilgrimage itineraries, as well. I would love to play with some of those elements next time my group starts out at low levels.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Absolutely! Pilgrimage itineraries, as well. I would love to play with some of those elements next time my group starts out at low levels.

I want to run a campaign set during the Pilgrimage of Mansa Musa.

I have done an adventure where the PCs were an escort for a group of specially selected young students being sent along the new Royal Road to be enrolled at the University in a neighbouring nation (modelled on Sankore University in Timbuktu)
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top